Australian javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Lucerne, Switzerland

Barber and Röhler in the spotlight in Lucerne

Kelsey-Lee Barber and Thomas Röhler both clinched javelin victories with the final throws of their competitions at the Spitzen Leichtathletik meeting in Lucerne on Tuesday (9).

Barber, the Oceanian champion, opened with a foul but took a brief lead in round two with 61.23m, only for European champion Christin Hussong and Tatsiana Khaladovich to better it with 64.62m and 64.60m respectively.

Barber threw 65.49m in round three to move into the lead, but Khaladovich responded again with 65.58m. Neither woman improved in the next two rounds, but Barber sent her spear out to a meeting record of 67.70m with her final throw, adding more than two metres to her lifetime best.

Khaladovich, the 2016 European champion, also saved her best for last, but her 66.18m wasn’t enough to catch the Australian. Olympic champion Sara Kolak was fourth with 64.35m.

“That’s incredible!” said Barber, who moves to 12th on the world all-time list and second on the Oceanian all-time list. “What a wonderful place for throwing events.”

Lucerne has been something of a good luck charm for javelin throwers in recent years. Katharina Molitor set a meeting record in 2015 and went on to win the world title later that year. Similarly, Johannes Vetter won in Lucerne with a meeting record in 2017 and won the world title a few weeks later.

The drama of the women’s contest was reflected in the men’s event as Röhler, the Olympic and European champion, moved into the lead with his final throw, his 86.51m surpassing Andreas Hofmann’s opening throw of 84.71m.

Hofmann, the Diamond League champion, improved in the final round but his 86.45m effort was six centimetres shy of his fellow German.

“I am super glad,” said Röhler. “It’s always super special to compete in Lucerne. It’s great for athletes and spectators to have such a great level of competition. Growing up in Germany has made us very competitive. This makes javelin so interesting at the moment.”

Headwinds and cool temperatures meant conditions weren’t conducive to fast times in the sprints and hurdles, but the races were nonetheless exciting.

Germany’s European silver medallist Gina Lückenkemper out-dipped Natalliah Whyte in a close women’s 100m. Both were timed at 11.20 (-1.0m/s) with Lückenkemper being given the verdict. Germany’s Tatjana Pinto took third place with 11.21.

“Lucerne is a good venue for me,” said Lückenkemper. “I was tired but my body was ready to compete and I showed it today. I am looking forward to the World Championships but first I am planning to compete at the London Diamond League meeting and at the German Championships in Berlin.”

World and Olympic finalist Akani Simbine won the men’s 100m in 10.06 (-0.3m/s) ahead of European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut (10.11) and Arthur Cissé (10.12).

Tynia Gaither from The Bahamas sprinted to a 22.69 (-0.7m/s) victory in the women’s 200m ahead of Crystal Emmanuel of Canada (22.90) and world indoor 60m bronze medallist Mujinga Kambundji (22.90).

Canadian record-holder Alysha Newman cleared 4.66m on her first attempt to win the women’s pole vault ahead of Slovenia’s Tina Sutej (4.61m), while Ruswahl Samaai won the men’s long jump ahead of fellow South African Zarck Visser, 8.18m to 7.91m.

Commonwealth champion Tobi Amusan clinched the women’s 100m hurdles win in 12.89, while Asian champion Xie Wenjiun won the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.45.

Ethiopia’s Tadese Worku prevailed in a close men’s 3000m in 7:43.24 ahead of multiple NCAA champion Edward Cheserek (7:43.47). European half marathon record-holder Julien Wanders was third in 7:43.62, narrowly missing Markus Ryffel’s 40-year-old national record.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF